Jane D. started the specific carbohydrate five years ago after suffering from irritable bowel syndrome for 15 years. A former nurse and currently a minister, she shares her experiences, including her first months on the diet, and advice for starting out. In order to help others with the SCD, she co-moderates the scd_newengland email group along with Laura Aronson.
At the time I served a congregation [as a minister]. On Sunday, I drove half an hour to get to church. Many times I would have to stop somewhere, such as a McDonald's, to use the bathroom. It was no fun.
I liked my job. I had a great relationship with my husband. In that regard, there was nothing wrong with my life. So I started cutting out different foods.
I cut out dairy, I cut out wheat. I cut out corn. It would seem to be better for a little while maybe three months or six months. Then it would start getting bad again.
One of the things she put me on was inulin. I have never been so sick in my entire life. I was doubled up for hours with cramping.
The acupuncturist was very nice. She said, "I cannot help you any more. I've tried everything that I know."
A couple of years later I went to another alternative medicine person who did muscle testing and had me take all of this weird powder. It didn't work. I was at the end of my rope.
I couldn't go skiing. I couldn't go running. I couldn't go for a walk. I couldn't do the things I loved to do. It was awful.
Sunday mornings began freaking me out. Because of the hemorrhoids, I also couldn't stand for long periods of time. At church I began sitting on a stool behind the pulpit.
The nurse called me with the result a few days later. It's normally 35 to 40. My measurement was 24. She said, "I can't believe you're walking around."
One day on the internet, the SCD came up. I read what was in the diet. I said, this makes complete sense to me.
I ordered the Breaking the Vicious Cycle, printed out a page of what to eat, and started the SCD.
But I joined the Long Island list which was a saving grace. I read those posts and stories. I thought, "Oh man, this is really going to work but I'll have to hang in there."
Then I "got it" about not trying to eat everything--to eat a few things and watch for reactions. So what I ate for the first three months wasn't much. It was fish, poultry, hamburger, applesauce, scrambled eggs, and a few vegetables. Even carrots bothered me in the beginning. I ate a lot of spinach, green beans, and winter squash.
I hadn't eaten dairy in so long that I couldn't bring myself to try it. Maybe after a month I tried some nut muffins that went over okay. But I remember when I had the die-off thing.
I was so sick. I was nauseous. I just felt awful. Because people had talked about it, I decided to hang in there. Then it was like a miracle. The next week everything was perfect.
With my digestion got in order, I visited the bathroom only once or twice a day. This allowed the hemorrhoids to heal.
I also lost 30 pounds. I was shocked.
We went skiing , sightseeing, and we walked long ways, using a lot of public transportation. Before, with my hemorrhoids, I couldn't walk anywhere.
We rented apartments and did a lot of our own cooking. However, for dinner, we often went to restaurants. I was by and large ok with the restaurant food. I would scrape off some sauce. I ate some potato. That was ok. I even tried a little chocolate. After several years on the diet, I didn't have to get so technical at restaurants.
Before the SCD, for my 50th birthday, I had gone to Quebec City with my family. Because of the hemorrhoids, I couldn't walk around. I had to sit in the hotel room.
I was sitting there, turning 50 and thinking, "What kind of life is this?" I had many days much worse, with blood running down my legs and being on the toilet. But the 50th birthday, I felt really stupid that I couldn't walk around, that I couldn't be far from a toilet.
The Europe trip was a completely different experience.
Also, I can't have salads at two meals. I can have salad for one meal and cooked vegetables at the other meal. I start to get constipated if I don't have cooked vegetables. I stay strict SCD. At restaurants I'll ask for sauce on the side or salad dressing on the side.
At one point my daughter picked up some bad water bacteria thing which they couldn't treat so she went on SCD at my encouragement. She was on antibiotics and stuff and couldn't really beat it. She was on SCD for a year and got a lot better. Now she's eased off and eats almost anything but she's very aware of her body. She can't eat too many grains. One piece of bread a day, a little rice. If she's not feeling right, she'll go back to the SCD for a week.
I thought that too. But trust me, take three months and don't take anything off of the SCD. Do this very strictly.
I'm big on telling people that 3 months is better than 1 month.
It's also important to to tune into your personal body and what works for you. There may be SCD legal foods may not work for you. And that's OK because there are plenty more that you can use. Don't try to push the envelope.
The funny thing is that I've never eaten junk food and grown much of own food since 1970. Eating whole foods, eating organic. That was part of the mystery of why I had so many problems. In a way SCD was easy for me b/c I always made my own salad dressings or soup or whatever. Another thing I feel I do to help other people is to mentor them with their cooking.
But if you don't like to cook, learn to make a stir fry, learn how to make a soup. Learn how to make a hamburger or a piece of chicken. Don't worry about complicated recipes. Learn to make salad and salad dressing. Simple.
I just went over to a woman's house yesterday, spending two hours with a woman in her kitchen, helping her how to cook vegetables and soup. She didn't understand cooking and needed help getting started.
I talk about this diet every chance I get. I've gone back to my acupuncturist and other alternative health doctors and given them a copy of Breaking the Vicious Cycle. I've told them, "Read this. Recommend it to your clients. If anyone has questions, call me."
I'm happy to do it because it's been such a life saver.